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Adam's Room (Upper Elementary)

Adam's Update 1-17-2020

posted Jan 17, 2020, 3:09 PM by Cynthia Friedman

This week our students are focusing on comparative writing and note-taking. The scholars are learning about space debris, and comparing the issues surrounding that with pollution on earth. They are using notes they took from a video they watched, as-well-as notes they took on two articles they read. They answered a series of questions to help them prepare for an essay they will write for submission next week. This assignment is differentiated between 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.

For math, the 4th Graders used place value understanding to decompose into smaller units using the standard subtraction algorithm, and apply the algorithm to solve word problems using tape diagrams. They will continue this exercise next week.

5th Graders used whole number multiplication to express equivalent measurements. Next week, the scholars will use fraction and decimal multiplication to express equivalent measurements.

The 6th Graders learned about the distributive property and the products of decimals, and will continue to be challenged next week by further exploring why we use the distributive property.

Our students are finalizing their Viking Longships project this week, and have begun writing a Longship owner’s manual. As an alternative to the manual, some students opted to write a Norse-like Saga. The Longship project will be presented on a poster board that will answer subject-related questions, display descriptive details about the Vikings, and what it was that made the Vikings such a successful empire. In the weeks to come, there will be a gallery walk in the classroom of Room 8’s Viking project, to which the students will invite their parents and peer upper elementary classrooms. The students have worked very hard on this project, and they are so proud of themselves. The Longships will be displayed on a shelf upon completion of the gallery walk presentation.

So as to help the class reflect upon why they have this coming Monday off from school,

we will be centering next week’s reading materials, writing prompts, and writing groups, on and around the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

I hope you all have a restful weekend.

Adam's Update 1-10-2020

posted Jan 10, 2020, 12:42 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Hello Room 8 Families! 

The past three weeks of school, our scholars utilized their growing knowledge of physics and worked in groups to make predictions about movement, force and energy. They constructed roller coasters from a model and made predictions about where their ‘cars’ would end up. After comparing their predictions with the actual outcomes, they readjusted the pitch of their slope and made more accurate predictions. This project will continue into the next year, when the students will design their own roller coasters and run experiments based on their own designs.

Over the past month, the scholars have received math instruction, and checked-in with me for individual attention and further clarification. 

Regarding math, the 4th graders have recently been focusing on using their understanding of place value to add multi-digit whole numbers using the standard addition algorithm, and then applying the algorithm to solve word problems. This past week, they received instruction on solving multi-step word problems using the standard addition algorithm, and then assessing the reasonableness of their answers using rounding.

The 5th graders have been continuing in their math learning by using equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract other fractions. They also received instruction on multiplying decimal fractions with tenths by multi-digit whole numbers while using their place value understanding to record partial products. This week, the ‘5ths’ worked on multiplying decimal fractions by multi-digit whole numbers through conversion to a whole number problem and then reasoning about the placement.

The students in 6th grade math are now working on the relationship between visual fraction models and equations, as-well-as creating division stories for dividing fractions by other fractions. This week, they moved into dividing fractions by mixed numbers and improper fractions. They will continue with this exercise and learn strategies to determine if figuring the decimal value of a fraction is an easier strategy to use for solving addition and subtraction of mixed fractions.


The students will begin taking on more responsibility by focusing on peer editing for their whole-class writing prompts. Then they will have face-to-face editing with Jonathan and myself before moving onto the computer for their final drafts. In addition to the new writing prompt protocol, the students will be working on specific writing skills in the weeks to come. Next week the 4th graders will be instructed on more diversity in their introductions and conclusions. The 5th graders will also work on introductions and conclusions, as-well-as small-group instruction on writing an argument paper. The 6th graders will have time with Adam working on argument and persuasion.

The students will be bringing home work plans to be signed by parents. They are expected to complete 80% of their work for the week and inform their parents of their workload.

We are so excited to be back!

Adam's Upate 11-25-19

posted Nov 25, 2019, 9:56 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Hello Room 8 Families! 

We have begun our new unit on ancient civilizations. Room 8’s scholars have chosen to learn about the Vikings! They have been introduced to the curriculum and have reviewed the agenda and project they will be working on. At the end of this unit, the students will have a gallery walk, and share what they have worked on and learned with their peers from the other upper elementary classes. We will invite you, as our scholar parents, to share in the gallery walk as well.

Last week we introduced physics, and started learning about Newton’s First Law. This week, we expanded our conversations in the subject to define the element of force. Please ask your child what they know about force, and prompt them to define the word with the equation they learned! We did an experiment that introduced the students to the concept of ‘energy storage’, and will continue with similar explanatory examples into next week.

This week’s writing prompt was titled “What I Am Thankful For”, and there have been some touching and interesting responses in the students scripts. This is a prompt that was difficult for many of our scholars to separate material ‘things’ from those that matter. Please prompt your students to share some of their writings with you. All of the students use Google Docs for their final drafts, and these drafts can be shared with you with their permission.

In math, the 4th grade students have moved past place value, and are working on gaining tools to help solidify their knowledge of place value. They are starting to work on multi-digit multiplication, and moving the decimal point when working with certain numbers. The 5th grade is working on solidifying multi-digit multiplication and the standard algorithm, decimal place value, and moving the decimal point. They are reinforcing their understanding of decimal place value by doing exercises that highlight vocabulary that supports their previous understanding that, to the left of the decimal point means to multiply by, and to the right of the decimal point means to divide by corresponding place value. 5th grade is also working on skills that will help them find equivalent fractions as a strategy for adding and subtraction fractions, as-well-as the area model. The 6th grade students are learning how to divide fractions by fractions, and how to extract equations from word-problems. They use modelling to help illustrate their understanding of the concept.

Next Wednesday, November 27, Ridgeline will stage two of its most popular events - Stone Soup and the School Sing-Along. Please bring vegetables to the school on or before Tuesday, November 26th. Room 8 has been selected as the upper-elementary classroom where veggie slicing will take place on that day, and where parent volunteers will be assisting students and staff with veggie chopping. Importantly, please remind your scholars to bring their own bowl and spoon to Ridgeline on Wednesday, so they can enjoy a bowl of one of the several delicious varieties of soups which will be available, all prepared and served by our talented and greatly appreciated parent volunteers.

Last, but not least! This evening, Friday, November 22, at 5pm, some of our students have a gig at Sam Bond’s Garage (located in the Whiteaker neighborhood at 407 Blair Street in Eugene). They will be playing accompanying ukulele with a band. If you can, please stop by, enjoy the sounds, and support our Ridgeline community out in the community.

Adam's Update 10-21-19

posted Oct 23, 2019, 8:16 AM by Cynthia Friedman

This past week we have changed a few protocols to maximize our learning. 

Our scholars have also grouped themselves for their math work. Most students are collaborating well with their colleagues, while others are working well independently. Please be sure to encourage math work, and inquire about how much time your scholar is dedicating to math each day. We have started daily work plans for students who need a little more math guidance, while also self-directing.

We are encouraging creative writing in class by dedicating a journal for just that purpose. Every student may do journal writing during the day. Many of our kids ask permission to write their own stories during work block, which is great! Since there has been high-demand, we have framed unstructured writing time into their work block as an option for meaningful work. This, coupled with our morning writing prompt, and restructured plan of attack for improving creative writing skills, will help in solidifying some of the norms of good writing.

The students will be given one writing assignment per week, which will be refined the entire week until Friday, when the writing is to be completed, due, and turned in. This will give students the opportunity to practice their writing, proofreading, and editing skills, while also giving them an opportunity to provide, and receive, positive and constructive feedback and criticism. They will each have one-on-one time with a teacher to finalize corrections, as-well-as have a chance for their peers to help them improve on their skills. The 5th and 6th graders will refine their writing down to two paragraphs, and the 4th graders will refine down to one paragraph. This will help them learn efficient and effective writing, and prepare them for middle-school and beyond.

The scholars are also beginning to writing short summaries for their article reading. Note-taking is also a skill they are expected to know upon entering middle-school. In order to give our scholars the tools necessary to succeed in the following years, we are working on note-taking and summary writing to help extract important information to help recall for later reference. We are supplementing summary writing by ordering more language arts material for the classroom,

which will help our scholars be better at analyzing sentences, making inferences, and identifying parts of speech.

Next week is already well underway, and we are very much looking forward to seeing what our scholars will accomplish in the coming weeks!

Adam's Update 9-11-19

posted Sep 11, 2019, 1:11 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Hello Room 8 families! 

For those of you who have not met me, my name is Adam Sumner and I will be returning to the Ridgeline community, along with Jonathan Sternberg, to represent Room 8 for the 2019-2020 academic school year. 

Jonathan and I have been fortunate enough to watch many of your kids work diligently through the last few months of what turned out to be a very challenging 2018-2019. Although there are many returning students, we also have many new faces joining the Room 8 family, thus providing an opportunity for our new 5th and 6th-grade scholars to develop leadership skills through mentorship. 

Our students look for opportunities to shine, and in Room 8 Jonathan and advocate for our kids to put their best foot forward. Our new mentors will be given new and exciting opportunities to lead in and out of their class, all-the-while looking toward their elder peers for guidance and collaboration. 

Room 8 is collaborating with Rooms 9 and 10 with reading clubs and other special activities this year, and we are looking to make Fridays a collaborative day, where students will spend time with their peers from other classrooms. We want our students to value their community, and look forward to making connections outside of Room 8. Many of our scholars have dear friends that have matriculated to other classes, and enjoy opportunities to continue strengthening the relationships they have formed previously. As a team, we feel that the connections made outside the classroom, but still within the framework of the Ridgeline community, is valuable exposure that gives our scholars the tools to help them work with others in sometimes challenging situations. The students will discover that working with other people can be not only challenging but fun. The Upper Elementary team is dedicated to providing a rich, and diverse learning experience that has your kids on their toes. 

Jon's Update 3-15-19

posted Mar 15, 2019, 11:11 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Dear Room 8 families,

I want to start by expressing what a joy it's been to spend the week with your children. They are sincerely a kind, curious, delightful group of students.

My main goal this week was to restore order and routine to their classroom environment, and put ownership of their space back in the students' hands and hearts. The transformation was almost instantaneous. The students are back to work, and the classroom vibe is very positive and light-hearted. Our kids are writing, reading, and doing math on a daily basis.

I'll be working with Adam, the new classroom teacher, to maintain some of the systems I've set into place, so the students can move forward smoothly. We'll further refine a predictable, rigorous academic schedule that still includes plenty of opportunity for creative expression and fun.

Thank you so much for your patience and support during this transition. Next week we'll be finishing up stories and transforming a few of them into puppet shows, in addition to more math! and academic writing. I'm looking forward to spending one more week getting to know this fun bunch.



Elizabeth's Update 2-15-19

posted Feb 15, 2019, 11:16 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Hello Ridgeline Families of Room 8!

I deeply appreciate the warm welcome so many staff, teachers, students, and parents have extended to me over these first days of teaching!  It has been a wonderful adventure to become better acquainted with you all.

In the future I will ask students if they would like to contribute some concise articles to this newsletter.  While in the meantime, I will highlight a few activities that have served to promote consistent work routines and represent a continuum of learning opportunity from Montessori prepared material to student-initiated, creative academic development.

Throughout the day, Jonathan continues to provide steadfast and expert support to all students as mentor, technical resource, and discussion counterpart. I asked if he would expand his role among students to present weekly curricular series in literature and history, so students can benefit from his experience and perspective as they think through the content together.

In one photo you can see a student with a linear representation based on the Natural History Timeline of Life as a classic memory exercise (in which a complete control chart is placed at a distance in the classroom from a blank chart students complete), working alongside students who have moved on to the second phase of the work to do an interpretive model of the ancient environment.

Regarding study of literature, another Room 8 material several students brought back into practice based on good memories from last year is a format for productive Book Club discussion developed by Meridy Wheeler. Choices made for reading in these first days have been based on student interest, while I design the upcoming sequence of text-based research and age-specific experience.

In addition, examination of simple mechanisms was experienced in the form of a corn sheller for an heirloom popcorn variety. I briefly reviewed agricultural development of the grass seed to the popular snack we enjoy today in gratitude to the thousands of farmers over thousands of years who contributed to the selective breeding of kernels that expand significantly when exposed to heat, in the context of changes in states of matter.

As a series of exercises in refining writing skill including spelling and syntax, students completed drafts, edits, and final editions of business cards, scripts, and Valentine’s Day cards for people they know and love.  Throughout this process, I consistently observed for convention balanced with creativity, content balanced with format, and symbol balanced with description.

Regarding classroom practices for engaged learning, I have been getting to know students as quickly as possible by reviewing their portfolios of completed work with them. I have consistently supported students in making and keeping the academic agreements of working on materials I introduced in four subject areas, while I gain a sense of their individual ways of navigating progress, perseverance, creativity, goal-setting, and celebration of accomplishment. 

Students are looking forward to increased involvement from Clark Hannahs as he presents new robotics building opportunities to encourage the understanding and active use of design and engineering experience.

I am looking forward to next week when some classic Montessori materials I recently reorganized will be introduced in the subjects of mathematics and language study.  It has been inspirational to see the students choosing different working groups for different subjects, as I observe their strengths and review their records in planning for productive academic achievement. I thank the students daily for their patience with me as I learn Ridgeline school culture, and work to improve my understanding of how to assist them all in living up to their personal potential.

I also look forward to talking with you soon, and please do not hesitate to contact me by email if you would like to schedule a conversation or student-work oriented meeting.

 Wishing you all an excellent holiday weekend, and I look forward to seeing students starting Tuesday of next week!    

Mary's Weekly Update 1-24-19

posted Jan 24, 2019, 11:07 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Elizabeth Voth will be Room 8's new substitute teacher!

Elizabeth Voth will be taking over in Room 8 as the new substitute teacher starting on February 4th. From January 28th until February 4th she will be working behind the scenes here at the school, so if you spot her, please welcome her!

Elizabeth’s Bio:

You can find Elizabeth anywhere there is a learning opportunity! From childhood experiences exploring forest ecology outside her hometown of Newberg, Oregon with her sister, two brothers, good friends and a Border Collie, to spending high school summers in Alaska tending organic gardens during the day and carving ancient ivory most evenings. Community-building practices of wood-fired ceramics defined Elizabeth’s bachelor’s degree at George Fox University, expanded by cultural and history studies abroad at Oxford and eleven other countries through shipboard travel with the University of Virginia. A winter season teaching in Alaska was such a good experience that Elizabeth went on to earn a master’s in education from the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University in Maryland followed by the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies in 2011. She has deeply enjoyed opportunities in Wisconsin and California to facilitate elementary students in their love of discovery both as individuals and within their dynamic learning community.  


Please note that mid-year student conferences will not be held this year since a new teacher will be taking over the classroom.  Instead, written feedback will be provided on the progress of your student. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact myself or Sharon Martin.

Intent to Return & Sibling Enrollment

It’s lottery season and we need to know your plans for the next school year.  By now you should have already completed an “Intent to Return” form. In order to qualify for sibling preference, you must complete the online enrollment application for any incoming sibling by January 31 (we encourage you to complete this as soon as possible).  Contact Jen Hackstadt if you did not receive the “Intent to Return” email.

Amazon Parkway Closures

Amazon Parkway will be closed to all traffic beginning Monday, January 21 and may last until February 7. The closure will impact both southbound and northbound lanes, between 19th and 24th Avenue.

Fond Farewell

Next week will be my last week here at Ridgeline.  I want to thank you all for allowing me to borrow your students every day and to work with their endless creativity and ideas.  It has been a lovely experience that I will remember fondly while I focus on other areas of my life and my own journey.

PS:  Please return the Friday Folder to the classroom on Monday!



Friday, Jan 25 Talent Show

Thur/Fri, Jan 31 & Feb 1        No School – Conferences (not Room 8)

Mary's Update 1-13-19

posted Jan 15, 2019, 9:31 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Montessori for a Peaceful Community - Tuesday, January 15, 6-7:30

Join Montessori expert Debbie Sheehan for a discussion of Grace and Courtesy and how Montessori ideals and practices can shape our families, our communities and the world!  Debra Sheehan is Director of the Montessori Center for Teacher Education (MCTE) located in San Diego, California and Assistant Director of Maria Montessori School, also located in San Diego. Debra teaches in all course levels as well as being the Practicum Supervisor for all adult learners. She holds Montessori credentials for Early Childhood, Elementary I – II, and Secondary I and is fully qualified to teach children between the ages of 2.5-15 years old as well as adults in teacher education programs for these age ranges. Debra has presented workshops at National AMS conferences, international lectures on Montessori methodology, and has been a MACTE on-site verifier for several Montessori teacher education programs.


Please note that mid-year student conferences will not be held this year since a new teacher will be taking over the classroom.  Instead, written feedback will be provided on the progress of your student. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact myself or Sharon Martin.

Intent to Return & Sibling Enrollment

It’s lottery season and we need to know your plans for the next school year.  Thursday morning you received an important “Intent to Return” email with links. Please read it thoroughly and complete the Intent to Return by January 18.  In order to qualify for sibling preference, you must complete the online enrollment application for any incoming sibling by January 31 (we encourage you to complete this as soon as possible).  Contact Jen Hackstadt if you did not receive the “Intent to Return” email.

PS:  Please return the Friday Folder to the classroom on Monday!



Saturday, Jan 12 Information Session for Lottery

Tuesday, Jan 15 Montessori for a Peaceful Community

Wed/Thurs, Jan 16 & 17        Dickie Jo’s Restaurant Fundraiser

Thursday, Jan 24                 Information Session for Lottery

Mary's Semi-Monthly Update 11-30-18

posted Nov 30, 2018, 12:11 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Stone Soup

Thank you to everyone who helped our Stone Soup event by contributing vegetables and/or volunteer time.  It was a lovely day for all involved!

Storyline – Pioneering in Benthic Territory

We have now started our Pioneering in Benthic Territory storyline unit.  Students have been creating characters (their “alter ego”) that they will pilot through our created ocean environment.  They have also been creating the back stories for their characters, exploring the reason(s) why they have decided to move from the “stack cities” to the ocean territory.  

All students have access to our shared drive for this storyline, so please ask your student to show you their documents and watch their character speak!

Electricity Unit

Having made their first circuits this week, many students were asking about the materials used in the activity so that they can make more:

- LED lights:  you can use either 3mm or 5mm lights in any color.  The best value for these lights is on Amazon where you can get a pack of about 500 lights in assorted colors for around $15.  You can also use special flat LED lights made by Chibitronics which are easier to handle, but are more expensive at $1/per light.

- Copper Foil Tape:  you need tape which is designed for circuits, so search for “copper foil tape with conductive adhesive”.  You can get approx. 80 yards for $12 on Amazon.

- Coin Battery:  use standard CR2032 batteries.  You can get multipacks on Amazon or at Dollar Tree.  

- Cardstock paper

- double-sided foam tape.

Based on what they learned this week, students can already build light-up greeting cards and pictures.  Once we learn parallel circuits and how to use switches in the coming weeks, they will be able to do more complex greeting cards, game boards, and room alarms.  We will also be pairing biology research on bioluminescent fish with making a light-up model of the fish. Then we will invite other classrooms in to view our Midnight Zone Aquarium.  

Field Trip to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Our class will be travelling to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on Wednesday, Dec 19th, to attend two special exhibitions – Plastic Entanglements and Elsa More - and to take part in a studio activity.   This event was organized by our wonderful art teachers, Melanie Germond and Pete Goldlust, for each of the Upper Elementary classes.  We will need 5-6 adult chaperones for this trip so please contact me if you would like to volunteer.

Drop-off and Pick-up in Front of the School

Yesterday another upset neighbor called at dismissal yelling about our families blocking the travel lane on W. Amazon. Do not stop in the travel lane and block traffic. If the line is too long circle around and come back or park somewhere legally and walk to pick up your student.

Volunteers Needed Around the School

The school is looking for volunteers to help with the following:

- Book Covering Volunteers:  If you are a detail oriented person who can cut a straight line, we would love to have your help! Contact the office or stop by to volunteer.

- Laminating Volunteer:  If you have laminating experience and/or are a detail oriented person, we would love to have your help. Contact Cynthia for more details and to volunteer.

- Marketplace Volunteers:  We still have 21 volunteer slots open! Six volunteers are needed on Friday, December 7, 3-5pm for set up, and 15 volunteer slots need filling on Saturday, December 8.

PS:  Please return the Friday Folder to the classroom on Monday!



Saturday, Dec 8 Marketplace and Continental Breakfast, 10am

Monday, Dec 10 RCO Meeting, 6pm

Monday, Dec 17 Board Meeting, 6:30pm

Wednesday, Dec 19 Class Field Trip to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

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